Wairoa Woman Aiming High

September 22, 2016
Royal New Zealand Air Force 16/02 Recruit Course. Portrait of J1054351 AC Kamaea Thompson-Paku.

Royal New Zealand Air Force 16/02 Recruit Course. Portrait of J1054351 AC Kamaea Thompson-Paku.

Kamaea Thompson-Paku is flying high, training as an avionics technician after gaining her electrical trades certificate at EIT.

Born and raised in Wairoa, the 20-year-old is Te Whānau-ā-Apanui.  She attended Wairoa College, where two of her sisters – Turina and Janine Paku – are teachers, and St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College in Napier before launching into tertiary studies. 

Head of School for trades and technology, Todd Rogers says EIT recognised Kamaea’s leadership potential in selecting her for its prestigious Manukura scheme.  

That took her and a handful of other Māori and Pasifika students to the Central Plateau for an intensive training course modelled along the lines of those used in the New Zealand Army.  The trades students slept on stretchers under canvas, took part in rigorous physical training and learnt to cooperate in preparing meals together.

Earlier this year, Kamaea joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a recruit and completed her three-month basic training course at the Woodbourne base near Blenheim.  From there she has progressed to training as an avionics technician specialising in fixed-wing aircraft.  

“It’s really good,” she says of life in the air force.  “It’s great fun.  I love it.”

What appeals most is the lifestyle and meeting a diversity of people including Papua New Guinean recruits, who also train at Woodbourne and study the same subjects.

Kamaea enjoyed her time at EIT where she found her tutors were always willing to assist with any problems.

In two years’ time, when she has completed her avionics training, she will be assigned to a squadron.  That’s likely to lead to overseas deployments and she is looking forward to travel.

One of four children, Kamaea says her family is very proud of what she’s achieved.